Mckenna bio photo

Barbara McKenna

Director of Public Outreach

Barbara McKenna is Director of Public Outreach for the Regional Educational Laboratory West (REL West) at WestEd.

McKenna joined REL West in 2015 to lead strategic communication and audience engagement for REL West research and products.

She was previously Communications Director for the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, a position she held for 10 years and in which she established and grew the communications department. McKenna worked closely with center leadership to connect research with policy and practice at the district, state, and federal level on issues including:

  • Equity and the opportunity gap in U.S. education systems
  • College and career readiness
  • Accountability
  • Teacher and leader preparation and effectiveness
  • Social-emotional and social justice learning
  • Language, culture, and identity

Previously, McKenna directed communications for the national Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence and, before that, was a public information officer at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

She began her career in journalism, reporting and editing at a range of daily and weekly newspapers, starting with The Washington Post, finishing with the Santa Cruz Sentinel, and with many now-defunct weeklies in between.

McKenna is a member of the Education Writers Association’s Community Advisory Board, and has presented and led workshops on effective communication.

She received a BA in English from Oberlin College.

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